A SpaceX plans stated on Monday that the company will begin testing its Starlink satellite-to-cell service with T-Mobile this year.
On a panel at the Satellite 2023 conference in Washington, D.C., Jonathan Hofeller, SpaceX vice president of Starlink enterprise sales, stated, “We’re going to learn a lot by doing — not necessarily by overanalyzing — and getting out there.”
There are a number of satellite companies working with terrestrial mobile network operators (MNOs) and device manufacturers to fill coverage gaps across the globe. This makes the market for space-based data services that go directly to devices on the ground, like smartphones, widely considered to have the potential to be lucrative.
In August, SpaceX and T-Mobile made an announcement about their partnership, promising to “end mobile dead zones.”
SpaceX has launched approximately 4,000 Starlink satellites to date, and the company has recently launched its more powerful “V2 Mini” satellites, which it claims have quadrupled the capacity of the previous generation.
Monday, Hofeller stated that SpaceX no longer produces the 1.5 series of Starlink satellites and that the company produces six satellites per day at its facility near Seattle. He added that the company is also producing “thousands” of user terminals per day.
Despite the fact that SpaceX intends to produce even larger second-generation satellites and has “made a few” to date, Hofeller emphasized that the launch of those satellites is “tied very closely to Starship,” the company’s towering rocket that has not yet reached space.
According to Hofeller, SpaceX has “well over” 1 million Starlink users, having reached that number in December. The Starlink business “had a cash flow positive quarter” in 2022, and the company wants to “make money” in 2023, according to a recent announcement.